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A consolidated, redesigned BI Portal launched on June 27

July 20, 2022

With a new interface and backend code base, UW-IT Information Management’s Enterprise Reporting and Analytics team has concluded over two years of work to consolidate and redesign two separate portals — BI Portal and UW Profiles. The main objectives of consolidating these two portals were to improve the customer experience and reduce the overall cost of running two separate infrastructures.

The new BI Portal user experience enhancements include:

  • Improved search capability
  • Logical grouping of BI products (reports, cubes, dashboard) by tagging
  • Simpler user interface
  • Future integration of report catalogs from external platforms, like Workday
  • Faster time to deliver new reports or update existing reports through automation and custom development tools

The overall redesign provides the additional benefits of streamlining and automating the development processes, including publication of reports to the BI Portal. This publication improvement eliminates complex manual processes that delayed reports publishing in the past, processes that were highly prone to human error.

What is the BI Portal?

In 2013, the BI (Business Intelligence) Portal made its debut and was created to provide reports, cubes and dashboards for data available in the EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse). Reporting accessible through the BI Portal offers current and historical institutional data for finance, student and research departments, informing the University’s operations and strategic decision-making.

What is UW Profiles?

In 2014, UW Profiles was added to get more data into the hands of more users. This web-based tool displays institutional dashboards created using Tableau software. It was designed to provide University leadership (Provost, Deans, Executives, Directors) with longitudinal information about UW. Each dashboard displays aggregated data for high-level analysis, not detailed information, to be used for operational reporting. 

The teams behind the scenes

“The success of this project lies with the team! The team’s focus, dedication, and professionalism made this project a reality and fun to work on. I want to thank them for an excellent job!” said Bart Pietrzak, Director, Enterprise Reporting and Analytics.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

  • Snezana Popovic, Technology Project Manager, UW-IT: Research Computing & Strategy: Program Management Office

DEVELOPMENT AND DEPLOYMENT

  • Andrew Nelson, Full-Stack Developer
  • Courtney Drake, Database Developer
  • Indra Narayan, Data Engineer
  • Jean Darlington, Business Analyst, Tester
  • Moon Koslowski, Full-Stack Developer
  • Tracy Fisher, Tester
  • Katy Moazzami, Business Systems Analyst

Andrew architected the BI Portal software design utilizing micro services and set up a continuous delivery and automated deployment process on Azure. He also set up the workflow orchestrations allowing for automated SSRS report deployment, archiving and report versioning.

Indra focused on designing and implementing the backend database that supports the existing and new BI Portal and its corresponding administration tool with its complex workflows.

Courtney joined the team mid-project and took over the database work without skipping a beat. She planned and executed the complicated migration process from the old BI Portal and UW Profiles databases into the new, consolidated database. 

Moon architected the frontend and display data services for the new BI Portal and the administration tool using the React framework, as well as created the hosting for both applications within Azure.

Tracy was the technology tester who put the consolidated and redesigned application through its paces to validate all user scenarios, uncovering any bugs, errors or defects that a user might encounter. 

Jean, as business analyst, ensured that the team as a whole was on the same page regarding design, implementation and testing. She provided all the project coordination, working closely with the project manager (PM), communications, development team, QA and design. 

Katy, who joined later in the project, assisted Jean with documenting User Acceptance Testing (UAT) feedback in JIRA tickets. She’ll be coordinating future BI Portal work and is currently collaborating on the intro video for the new portal.

DEPLOYMENT PREPARATION

  • Bomani Siwatu, Sr. Applications Systems Engineer 
  • Grzegorz Grabowski, Sr. Applications Systems Engineer
  • Rosalie Leano, Sr. Applications Systems Engineer
  • Tom Escobar, Sr. Applications Systems Engineer
  • Travis Boyle, Infrastructure Engineer
  • Nina Velikin, Technology Manager

Bomani and Rosalie were instrumental in preparing the deployment of the reports, cubes and dashboards to the new BI Portal. They helped to clean up objects in the old catalog and helped with testing of the objects as they were deployed to the new catalog.

Grzegorz, Tom and Travis worked on preparing the objects in the old catalog for the migration. They ascertained the correct versions of the reports, made necessary adjustments, and worked closely with Courtney to ensure that new BI Portal databases were populated with the proper data.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION

  • Mairead Roden, Business Systems Analyst
  • Audrey McGrath, Business Systems Analyst
  • Shawn Lowe, Technical Trainer, UWFT

Mairead was the architect behind the content of the Help pages, organizing it into the coherent and well-presented BI Portal Introduction. Customize the BI Portal Wiki page is Audrey’s design and presentation. Shawn is creating the BI Portal introduction video.

User feedback

UAT started in January of this year. Users with different data needs took part in reviewing and testing the new consolidated portal, performing their business use cases and providing recommendations and feedback.

A mini freeze

In mid-June the team implemented a code freeze. Users were able to work as usual during this freeze while request tickets were held until the freeze ended.

A summer release

Browse by tags tileAfter the brief freeze the new BI Portal went live on June 27. The new BI Portal is now one main road that leads to a variety of reporting needs, including the off-the-shelf reports that used to live separately in UW Profiles, now located in the Browse by Tags section.

Customer requests for features and other nice-to-haves are now in the queue for future updates and releases which will be easier and faster to implement now that the two portals are one.

By the numbers

  24+ months and440+ users      

Users say:

“There are tags that are meaningful for my work. And I think it could be a good way to search to find options other than the reports I most typically use.”

 

“The plus sign (+) to give more information is great and the tool tip to see what each report is before clicking to see the detail is a wonderful addition.”

 

“The functionality is very intuitive. I love that my favorites are at the top, and I love the look and feel of the icons.”

 

What’s next?

The new BI Portal will be the topic of a BI Portal webinar in September. We hope you’ll join the Reporting and Analytics team to take a deeper dive into the new interface and get answers to your questions.

Questions?

Please contact help@uw.edu with BI Portal in the subject line.